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Ukraine crisis live news: self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk ask Russia for military aid | World news

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As the west sounded the alarm about the Kremlin ordering troops into eastern Ukraine and decried it as an invasion, Russian state media painted a completely different picture – of Moscow coming to the rescue of war-torn areas tormented by Ukraine’s aggression and bringing them peace, reports the Associated Press.

TV presenters hailed the “historic” day and professed the end of suffering for the residents of the breakaway regions.

“You paid with your blood for these eight years of torment and anticipation,” anchor Olga Skabeyeva told residents of the areas known as Donbas during a popular political talk show Tuesday morning on Russia 1 state TV. “Russia will now be defending Donbas.”

TV pundit Vladimir Solovyev echoed those sentiments on his morning show on state Vesti.FM radio. “We will ensure their safety,” he declared. “It is now dangerous to fight with them because one will now have to fight with the Russian army.”

Channel One, another popular state-funded TV station, struck a more festive tone, with its correspondent in Donetsk asserting that local residents “say it is the best news over the past years of war.”

“Now they have confidence in the future and that the years-long war will finally come to an end,” she said.

Whether Russians are buying it is another question.

A Facebook campaign with the hashtag “I’m not staying silent”, launched by independent Russian news site Holod urged people “to express their opinion about the war aloud – and also to remember that each of us has something connecting us to Ukraine”. It brought dozens of posts sharing memories about Ukraine and condemning the Kremlin’s moves.

Still, many have voiced their wholehearted support for Putin’s decision.

“It should have been done a long time ago,” said Irina Nareyko, a Moscow resident. “These poor people who identify as Russian, who mainly identify as Orthodox, who cannot wait anymore and live expecting to be killed we should have accepted them a long time ago.”

Denis Volkov, director of the Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster, said that according to its poll data, more than half of Russians were ready to support Putin’s moves.

“The situation, as it is understood by the majority, is that the west is pressuring Ukraine” to make a move against the rebel-held areas, “and Russia needs to somehow help”, Volkov told the AP.

The narrative of Ukraine having aggressive designs on Donbas has been actively promoted by the Russian authorities – along with accusations that the west is pumping Ukraine full of weapons and warmongering.

The official rhetoric heated up last week, when Putin charged that “what is now happening in Donbas is genocide”. Popular newscasts and political talk shows on state TV channels started widely using the term.

Prominent news anchor Dmitry Kiselev likened what was happening in Donbas to second world war atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. “It is, simply, solidarity with the genocide of today,” he charged on Russia 1s flagship news show.

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